July 13, 2014

Did RelateIQ Sell to Salesforce too soon?

Andy Byrne

Andy Byrne

Andy Byrne
Andy Byrne

CEO, Clari

Acquisition A 690x300

July 11th, 2014 was a big day in our industry. As Clari celebrated its two year anniversary, one of our "data science for CRM" brethren — RelateIQ — was acquired by Salesforce for $350 million.

For small-to-medium sized businesses, RelateIQ developed an innovative approach to CRM by applying data science and machine learning to allow salespeople to build stronger relationships. We’ve also heard nothing but great things about RelateIQ’s culture, their people, and more.

I would like to congratulate the RelateIQ team. While it is always a bittersweet thing — having your company become part of much larger organization — it is impressive that the company, in just three years time, created $350 million worth of equity value for its investors and shareholders.  As students of entrepreneurship, we have to tip our proverbial hats.

Anyone in the tech industry has likely seen the good and the bad of an acquisition by a larger entity. In the good, those smaller companies are able to continue the innovation and velocity that attracted them to the acquirer. In the bad… well, the opposite happens.

With that in mind, I hope that Salesforce takes the road less traveled with this purchase. Taking a cue from how Facebook treats Instagram, Oculus, and WhatsApp, I hope Salesforce allows RelateIQ to act on their own, to let them run, and run fast! RelateIQ started a journey of innovation and passion, and have built a winning culture around that. As another soldier in this CRM evolution (or revolution, depending on your approach) we would like to see that continue.

Although data science unites us, Clari is blazing our own path in the CRM market — by combining the mobile medium, beautiful design, and data science for larger enterprises like Cisco, United Healthcare, Juniper, VMware and others. Relationships are a crucial part of the sales ecosystem, but in our view, it is one of many cogs in the sales machine. To close more deals, reps crave actionable information on their opportunities at their fingertips, and managers need real-time visibility and intelligence on deal progress. Clari’s approach is to infuse data science into the entire end-to-end sales process to benefit the entire sales team.

Since our emergence from stealth a few months ago, we’ve been gaining velocity with proof points that show how we are not only driving better relationship intelligence, but using our data science to enable sales teams to drive more revenue, and sales management to have better predictability across their forecasts. Innovative sales and CRM professionals want not only to take back control of their CRM, but also get more out of it, and that’s what the data-driven era of sales will do.

In our view, we’re still in the early days of the data science and sales marriage. We are seeing our customers apply our predictive insight to figure out exactly what rep or manager actions will help the team exceed this quarter's quota, and which people and selling approaches will be most effective in future quarters. For our customers, that is game changing. With this in mind, I can’t help but think... did RelateIQ sell too early?

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